Simetrías y asimetrías: José Antonio Ramos Sucre y Andrés Eloy Blanco / Alejandro Oliveros

Symmetries and Asymmetries: José Antonio Ramos Sucre and Andrés Eloy Blanco

                    [José Antonio Ramos Sucre (L) and Andrés Eloy Blanco (R)]

The two most prominent figures of modern Venezuelan poetry were born in the city of Cumaná, on Venezuela’s eastern coast. The older poet, Ramos Sucre, was born in 1890, and Blanco in 1906. Members of distinguished families from the Oriente region, their childhood homes are only a few blocks apart from each other. Fate, however, made sure they never met, despite the symmetries that link the lives of these bards: an inclination for the humanities, law studies at the University of Caracas, both of them poets. Additionally, they were linked in their diplomatic careers; one of them, Ramos Sucre, was a functionary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Blanco, was a minister, a couple of decades later, of that same Ministry. And the gods also chose a death in exile for them. The first one in Geneva; in what is undeniably a suicide, afflicted as he was by the “vampire of melancholia.” And the second, in an improbable driving accident during his exile in Mexico. The symmetries end here, because nothing could be more divergent than the poetics that distinguished their work.

Ramos Sucre is rightfully considered Venezuela’s first modern poet; prose poems, impersonal, hermetic, learned, demanding, with an exquisite syntax and the insistence on the image as the basic instrument of expression. He wrote little and never for many, his style was that of Cellini and his exquisite goldsmith work. Andrés Eloy Blanco, for his part, didn’t quite propose to be a poet of modernity. It seemed better to him to take on a crepuscular post-Romantic aesthetic, expressed in conventional diction and traditional meters. Incapable of dissociating the poet from the politician, he aimed to be and undoubtedly he was a popular poet, within reach of large crowds and immediate recognition. He never seemed to identify with the attempts being put forth, not without exhaustion, by the best of his contemporaries to adapt the new expressive forms that had been disseminated for several decades in Europe or the United States.

They were born in Cumaná, two poets of antipodal expressions, despite the symmetries that might have brought them closer. Blanco is probably the poet most read by Venezuelans during the 20th century, although I’m not sure he’ll keep that position in the 21st century. While Ramos Sucre continues to be a strange figure whose readership is limited to universities and poets who recognize him as the founder of modern Venezuelan poetry.

Alejandro Oliveros, poet and essayist, was born in Valencia on March 1st, 1948. He founded and directed the magazine Poesía, published by the Universidad de Carabobo. He has published ten poetry collections including El sonido de la casa (1983) and Poemas del cuerpo y otros (2005). His books of essays include La mirada del desengaño (1992) and Poetas de la Tierra Baldía (2000).

{ Alejandro Oliveros, Prodavinci, 4 March 2017 }

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